The Madness of Reactive Politics

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The latest TSA scandal that has America up in arms was not only entirely predictable but also clearly indicative of all that is askew with the Obama administration’s foreign and domestic policies. In the broader view, American officialdom has neither the ability to anticipate a problem and so act to prevent it from happening nor the capacity to respond in a rational and effective way to the problems it has not adequately foreseen. American policy in general is wholly reactive; further, the reaction is always misdirected and serves only to aggravate the quandary it is presumably attempting to resolve.

We observe such bungling obtuseness on the geopolitical stage where its reply to the Iranian nuclear imbroglio, the sporadic eruption of violence on the Korean peninsula, clan warfare and endemic corruption in Afghanistan, continued insurgency in Iraq, Venezuelan belligerency and Palestinian intransigence is, in every case, misguided and counter-productive. Iran continues to be “engaged” even as it sprints toward the bomb, sanctions notwithstanding, North Korea bribed, Afghanistan botched, Iraq mismanaged, Venezuela ignored, and the Palestinian Authority encouraged to persist in its refusal to negotiate meaningfully with Israel.

Clearly, this is an administration devoid of both common sense and even minimal political clairvoyance, ensuring a more incendiary future than we might otherwise have expected. It is an open question which is worse: the inability to assess a threatening situation or the incapacity to mitigate its consequences, though perhaps it doesn’t matter since this administration is guilty on both counts.

On the home front, we see the same gross incompetence at work. Perhaps the most glaring issue is the undeclared war of the drug cartels on the Mexican border, to which the government has responded by…not responding—except, of course, by suing the state of Arizona for trying to do something about it and fill the federal vacuum. Some reaction! As for the current farce being daily enacted at the nation’s airports, this is simply another sign of what we might call the administration’s “structural ineptitude,” that is, the temptation to apply every conceivable solution except the right one.

A jihadist stuffs explosives and a TAPT fuse into his shoe; the reaction is to have millions of fliers remove their shoes for inspection. Terrorists pack explosives into gels and liquids; the reaction is to confiscate every can of shaving cream or bottle of shampoo while the lines of passengers stretch into the far distance. The Christmas bomber stuffs 80 grams of PETN into his underpants; the reaction is to introduce “naked scans” and groping “pat downs” whose invasiveness and vulgarity are enough to deter people from flying in the first place.

A short while ago, a determined jihadist attempted to assassinate a Saudi prince by detonating an explosive device secreted in his anus. Fortunately for the prince, the terrorist on this occasion was the only thing to hit the fan. But the tactic will surely be repeated by yet another anal-retentive wannabe and, after a passenger jet explodes in mid-flight and investigators figure out what happened, the TSA may well react by instituting cavity searches and instant colonics or devising new and more hazardous radiation probes. What else can we expect from our authorities? It gets even more interesting. We now know that Al-Qaeda is planning to use surgically inserted bombs, which may or may not be detected by high-specification X-Ray machines. Meanwhile it will take longer for many people to board a plane than to fly to their destinations, assuming they still want to.

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  • Shaun

    Ouch! You’ve just given the tedious Freudian shibboleth “anal retentive” new life and a new, more explosive, connotation!

    . . . Whenever students would mention “anal retentive” in some unlikely context I would joke “better anal retentive than anal expulsive!” But now we have to deal with “anal explosive!”

  • donna_marie

    It is scary, isn't it? I understand that these new screeners cannot detect powder explosives on a person and cannot see inside body cavities. Is this correct? If so, then are they any more effective than what was in place before?

  • RiverFred

    Someone high in govt, had an interest in the scanner company. The latest incident with the bomber was a set up to make this company and the U.S. govt. official rich. Google Cal Gruneck and read the details.

  • Merlin

    This is symptomatic of bureaucracy in general and Obamacracy in particular. 1. The problem is not clearly defined. 2. The "solution" is backward looking. 3. Extreme measures (X-Rays & intimate pat downs) are introduced without proper trial, discussion, or approval. 4. Imagined benefits are not weighed against costs (600 million flights x 2hrs per person = 1.2 billion lost human hours, valued at $30 an hour gives us $36 billion annually in flyer costs). 5. Obama wants to unionize all TSA personnel, reducing even further the flexibility of the program, but enhancing his political base. 6. Questions, suggestions, alternatives, and protests are met with casual dismissal, name-calling, and threats of legal action. 7. Neither Obama or the TSA has any idea of where this type of intrusion might end.

  • lovesjeeves

    We would be far safer if our goverment used its expertise to consistently seek dangerous people , rather than inconsistently seek innocuous things among the masses.